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To those of you who attended our Open House last week, it was great to see you! We hope you were able to tour the new facility, have a bite to eat, and listen to some of our dedicated staff as they addressed our community. And to those of you who weren’t able to attend the event, we’d love to share the following address from Jessie Peters, FNP-BC, and our Medical Lead for Integrated Services.
Her words bring home why it is we do what we do, and why we are so committed to bringing Integrated Healthcare to the Verde Valley.
As we welcome you to Spectrum’s newest site today, I am reminded that we’re actually NOT celebrating a building, a renovation, or a remodel – even though we will be cutting a ribbon. We are not celebrating a new business model, a new strategy, or a new healthcare delivery system. I see you looking around making sure you’re at the right event… (rest assured, this is COTTONWOOD… there is only one white tent up today in the whole community, guaranteed.) You’re at the right place – but you may be surprised to find out why you’re here – more on that to come.
But first, a bit of history – in a nutshell. Circa, say, 2006, we learned those with serious mental illness were dying – young – an average age in Arizona of 45. FORTY-FIVE. (I’ll not take a show of hands, but quickly eyeball your neighbor… there are many of us here over 45 today.) While I’m making light of our ages, I am not making gest about the truth – in the world of the seriously mentally ill, many over 45 is not the case. Not only were the serious mentally ill dying younger, they were also the population consuming the most healthcare resources. OH, and did I mention? To complicate matters, these with serious mental illness weren’t dying from the effects of their mental illness – say suicide or overdose.
They were dying from complications surrounding their unmanaged and chronic PHYSICAL diseases: Diabetes. COPD. Hypertension. Heart attack. A clear disparity, and a clear tragedy.
At that point in time our CEO, Robert, with his foresight and vision, launched Spectrum (then Verde Valley Guidance Clinic) forward in a new and groundbreaking direction. With conviction and determination, he decided on a solution: we’re going to treat the whole person. Mind and body connected. So in 2009 we brought primary care into our previously behavioral health world. The rest is history – well, not really – the rest is our present, and the rest is our future.
Since 2009, we have brought together not only our integrated efforts for the seriously mentally ill, but we’ve also learned and responded to further meet the needs of our community. Our community is rural and in a healthcare shortage – so not only do we want to meet the needs of the mentally ill, but we want to meet the healthcare needs of – well, everyone. Mind and body care (shocking) is the best practice. In response to the healthcare needs of our community, we’ve built a strong, caring, and accomplished group of primary care providers, including internal medicine, pediatrics, nurse practitioners and a physician’s assistant. We serve the medical needs of our community – those with mental illness and those without. In this building we house psychiatry, primary care, nursing, peer health navigators, pharmacy, a lab draw station, a team of behavioral health clinicians, allergy specialty, and the support that makes it all happen.
So back to why you’re here. To truly understand our endeavors and accomplishments, I’d like to share a few stories – I hope to portray our purpose. A purpose that is life-changing, full of hope, and beautiful.
- It’s the woman who cuts herself in secret, ponders suicide, and finds help in a safe place – surprisingly this place was her primary care office
- It’s the homeless man, who before coming to Spectrum hadn’t seen a doctor since his service in Vietnam
- It’s the bi-polar woman who comes in and says, “This is the first time I’ve lived without migraines – ever”
- It’s the child who’s whole family comes to Spectrum for care
- It’s the asthmatic man who now can breathe, ride his bike, and volunteer
- It’s the elderly who come and are valued
The list could go on. I have heard these stories personally.
Now, I’m not going to patronize you with the notion that life here at Spectrum is perfect… there is an army of people in Spectrum polo shirts staring me down right now. No smoke and mirrors here! This job is hard. Things don’t always go well. Things are always changing, and honestly, not always my way. Integration as we practice it, is trying and difficult, a target that’s always moving. We care for people in a way others don’t. We don’t leave everyday, or even MOST days feeling like we’re changing the world.
But we are…you are.
Spectrum staff, you are honored today. You work very hard. You care for people in a way most people can’t. I wish I was permitted time to mention each one of you and your accomplishments by name. You do inspiring work every day. Thank you team, you are truly marvelous.
So why are you here today, in Cottonwood, under a big white tent?
Because people are finding help at Spectrum. That is why we celebrate this site. Young and old. Sick and well. In all stages of recovery. Everyone gets care equally.
Care for mind, for body, for all of you.